old_windbag wrote:I think the problem from my perspective in chernobyl for example is not the dose received standing around which may be very low but rather ingestion of strongly ionizing contaminants from crops and meat that has fed from the land and watercourses. We have built in DNA repair to a degree and alpha, beta particle emitters will not penetrate far, if at all, externally, but if we ingested alpha emitting material then we could be creating unecessary problems down the line. Its the material that has found its way into the soil and beyond that is critical. The half life being an important factor.
We aren't eating the food growing in that area, but yes - ingestion is more risky than other forms of exposure. We do, of course, eat and breath radioactive substances all our lives however...
The a-bomb tests the americans did in nevada and elsewhere weren't without incident. Why should anyone have an increased risk of cancer through nuclear errors whether weapons or energy, we aren't happy having it from other sources and are always striving to reduce damage to health....... though many may ignore advice given.
If you want to reduce damage to health then build as much nuclear power generation as you can, and shut down the coal industry.
I don't have a fear of radiation as described in the name changes to equipment as I know it can be used for good. But I wouldn't choose to drink a radium tonic as was often promoted in the early days of the discovery. There are many walking the planet into their 70's/80's who were exposed to quite high doses of radiation but their stories aren't of a life without serious health issues that they need not have incurred.
I wouldn't want to drink a radium tonic either - but then we have a better understanding of radiation now than we did then (when it was absolutely brand new to science)
Possibly - it is very difficult to directly attribute health issues to low levels of radiation exposure - simply because the effects aren't actually predictable on an individual level (at low doses). I'll wager that more health issues have been caused, and lives lost, because of the increase in use of coal power than anything that the nuclear industry has ever done.
And that's ignoring the medicinal treatments which are another byproduct of many reactors... Net benefit is possibly coming into play once you look at various treatments possible as a result of the nuclear power industry.